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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

the internet's technological shift « Previous | |Next »
January 28, 2010

Nicholas Carr, the author of The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google, argues that we're in the midst of a transition in computing, moving from our own private hard drives to the computer as access portal to programming to data storage run by companies with big hard drives in out-of-the-way places.

The implications of this technological shift from an older client-server model to a web-based or utility based model is explored on his Rough Type blog. In this post on Google he says:

Google's overriding business goal is to encourage us to devote more of our time and entrust more of our personal information to the Internet, particularly to the online computing cloud that is displacing the PC hard drive as the center of personal computing. The more that we use the Net, the more Google learns about us, the more frequently it shows us its ads, and the more money it makes. In order to continue to expand the time people spend online, Google and other Internet companies have to make the Net feel like a safe, well-protected space.

So Google has to convince the public that the Net is safe if we are in the process of shifting from mainly used our computers to run software programs installed on our hard drives to using them mainly to connect to the vast databases of the Internet.

In this post on Apple's newly released iPad he argues that the iPad is the clearest indication that we’ve entered a new era of computing, in which media and software have merged in the Internet cloud.

... as the Internet has absorbed the traditional products of media - songs, TV shows, movies, games, the printed word - we’ve begun to look to our computers to act as multifunctional media players. They have to do all the work that was once done by specialized technologies - TVs, stereos, telephones, newspapers, books - as well as run a myriad of software apps. The computer business and the media business are now the same business. The transformation in the nature of computing has turned the old-style PC into a dinosaur. A bulky screen attached to a bulky keyboard no longer fits with the kinds of things we want to do with our computers. The obsolescence of the PC has spurred demand for a new kind of device - portable, flexible, always connected - that takes computing into the cloud era.

With the iPad, Apple is hoping to deliver the key device for the cloud era, a machine that will define computing’s new age in the way that the Windows PC defined the old age. The computing in the web based model is all about the programming - the words and sounds and pictures and conversations that pour out of the Internet’s cloud and onto our screens.

I agree with Carr's argument that the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind. Moreover, it not only supplies the stuff of thought, but also shapes the process of thought as I quickly scan short passages of text from many sources online. This is different kind of reading to the deep linear style reading of books and behind it lies a different kind of thinking --a nonlinear network thinking?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:49 AM | | Comments (14)


Carr says that:

Today, Jobs’s ambitions are grander than ever. His overriding goal is to establish his company as the major conduit, and toll collector, between the media cloud and the networked computer.

Apple sell networked devices in order to achieve this goal of being the toll collector.

The developments he talks about are creating a new class system in developed countries. The IT illiterates are being left behind. Those who have the inclination and resources are enthusiastically embracing all the new possibilities offered by very fast broadband (and ultimately very fast wireless) to transfer just about everything into cyberspace. Cell phones, computers and TVs are merging to create a new dimension to our lives.

It's easy to forget that a significant minority of Australians still don't know how to operate a computer, and a bigger number has been left behind by the pace of change in IT. The socio-economic implications are not clear yet.

maybe the combination of the national broadband network and an iPad will help to change things as the latter has one button and can do emails, play photos and video and surf the net. Ideal for some people in the older generation who want to be online but find a computer too difficult.

I remember that the touchscreen concept was used on Star Trek many years ago. So it has taken quite a long time to go from the concept to the lounge room. The difference is that it has gone from a perceived function to a must have product fad. I guess this says more of where we are now as humans than what we have acheived by it.
I am inclined to think the laptop design of a screen that doubles as a lid folding down over the keys is better for the domestic market and the tablets will evolve into the workplaces more.

I really hate the idea of cloud technology. If you can't connect to the internet then you can't do any work. The strength of the PC was its independence from a central computer.

In Australian cities we have pretty good coverage but its slow, but people in sparsely populated rural areas have poor coverage. When you try to use your mobile phone in a holiday resort in school holidays you are very aware that the influx of holiday makers has stretched the capacity of local infrastructure, specifically the mobile network.

I think the regulation of the mobiles market has reduced the providers interest in building and maintaining infrastructure.

Flickr is a part of cloud technology. So is publishing books via Blurb and other publishers. People find both very useful. I do.

Star Trek featured in Job's demonstration of the iPad.

The iPad may turn out to be something different to a fad. Have a read of Bruce Webb's The iPad is NOT a Computer, its a Briefcase w/Gizmos. Webb makes some good points about how it may well be used.

Apple is already doing cloud computing with its iTunes cloud of music and its cloud of thousands of third-party apps to run on the iPhone. Cloud computing will also bring a kind of cloud culture: increasingly, we will express ourselves through these clouds of films, videos, pictures, books, stories and music.

I guess it comes down to whether a person likes it or not. Bruce Webb's Gizmo theories are fine for him and he has something to write about but everything he listed could be in his favourites list on his laptop for easy access.
Yes, as a comparison between viewing info on your phone or ipad screen its bigger.

When using iTunes I found it disconcerting that you have to connect to the Internet to get the track names of the CDs you were copying to your iPod. Yes I know that you can copy all your CDs, then connect to the internet and get the track names. However iTunes blocks you copying a CD from 1 iPod to another iPod. Why bother? because my iPod contains 200 CDs that I don't have to cart around.

Cloud technology assumes access to the internet and no download restrictions. Doesn't work for people on restricted budget or who are very security conscious.

"to the online computing cloud that is displacing the PC hard drive"
"The transformation in the nature of computing has turned the old-style PC into a dinosaur"
The real problem is that there are people who write this kind of stuff. HDDs are now larger and cheaper that ever before. That and RAM are the two things that have had the biggest impact on computing. The cloud is not stopping the growth of local storage.
As to the second comment, I work as a programmer often on client sites. Th rate at which PCs are delivered is consistent or perhaps rising slightly.
I remember when the thin model was going to destroy the PC market and it might of if PC component prices hadn't dropped so quickly from the being of the 2000s.

We will probably increase our personal computers storage capacities and our cloud computer. That 's my trajectory with my photography.

The Economist has a sensible article on the effects of the iPad in the context of the history of Apple's products transforming , the computer, music and telecoms says:

even though tablets will not save weak media companies, they are likely to give strong ones a boost. Charging for content, which has proved difficult on the web, may get easier....Most important, it will allow for advertising, on which American magazines, in particular, depend. Tablets could eventually lead to a wholesale switch to digital delivery, which would allow newspapers and book publishers to cut costs by closing down printing presses.

The digital revolution has a long way to run.

the media companies see the iPad as a way to sell digital content to the masses.We only read the content and do not create our own content--eg., the Berlin Project

So, like the IPhone it limits user activity to the use of "apps", which are almost entirely focused either on playing games, or on the downloading of material from the internet.

Is there a synergy between above thread and comments and the news just out of a major agreement between the US NSA and Google involving a certain, shall we say, "harmonisation of process"?
Thanks, Jus Obodie at WD!!